When asked to describe his albums as people, 24-year-old Will Wiesenfeld– better known as the man responsible for experimental project Baths–responded by likening them to people he cares about but perhaps rather wouldn’t want to spend time with.
“‘Cerulean’ is maybe like a old friend. I am still fond of the relationship we had, but am happy to fall out of contact with him,” he said. “‘Obsidian’ is maybe a person I’m fascinated by, and enjoy reading about, but would much rather avoid in casual settings.”
Does this mean Wiesenfeld is an introvert? What these descriptions say about his personality is anyone’s best guess, but at the same time, they do also provide some interesting insight into his relationship with the music he makes.
For example, his nostalgic approach to 2010’s “Cerulean”–the first album as Baths, but by no means his first album–is a reflection of the actual writing process. Whereas Wiesenfeld set out to only put songs that he loved on his most recent album, the songs that made it onto “Cerulean” were admittedly not crafted as intentionally.
“I definitely have regrets [about that album],” he shared. “I can’t stand the songs ‘Maximalist’ or ‘Aminals’ anymore, but that’s my own fault. I had a particularly rocky relationship with ‘Maximalist.’ We broke up like a year ago and can’t even bear to text each other.”
Luckily, nearly six months after the release of “Obsidian,” Wiesenfeld is still on good terms with those 10 tracks, although part of it might also be due to the addition of live band member Morgan Greenwood from Azeda Booth.
“The songs are infinitely more fun to play because there’s much more to explore between the two of us. We reworked a few of them so they feel like live remixes in a way, but that’s the fun of it. The songs feel different and new,” he said. “It does change the energy a bit, in a good way, that it molds the music to fit the context of seeing two people live on stage performing it as opposed to watching a solo laptop performance.”
Additionally, not only is Greenwood helping Wiesenfeld realize his dreams of Baths as more than a solo project in the live realm, but he may also contribute to future writing and recording.
“I will be working alone for a large part of [my next album], but plan on working with Morgan as well. I think he is a genius musician and his input is pretty invaluable. I’d love to see what the two of us could come up with,” he said. “[But right now] the ideas brewing are only sounds and images that don’t make much sense yet.”
Naturally, this leads to discussions of Wiesenfeld’s process, which tends to take place in his home in the Los Angeles suburbs. And while he has shared that he is not necessarily comfortable there, he means that strictly in the sense of a scene.
“I actually do feel very comfortable in Los Angeles, but I don’t feel comfortable being lumped into various scenes that spring up in LA,” he said. “I like the idea that every artist can have their own thing going on without a greater musical movement to adhere to. Just bands being bands.”
And that sense of individuality is something Wiesenfeld embraces when writing.
“The corny expression ‘change is the only constant’ is kind of a good starting point for me. I like things to feel original, and my writing to feel original, at least to me, which is the only way I can stay inspired. Too much comfort zone or sameness makes me uneasy, which is why I tend to do less remix work lately. I don’t like recycling old production ideas too often,” he said. “Making myself happy with a song is tough. I am an extremely harsh critic of other people’s music as well as my own, which helps me to make better material.”
And there’s another thing, too. No amount of waxing poetic about esoteric ideas of musical inspiration or creation could change the fact that Wiesenfeld’s inspiration is largely derived from the ability to be up-front about who he is.
“The biggest evolution in both my personal life and music-making process was coming out,” he shared. “Every bit of work I’ve done from that point on felt much more honest; I wasn’t having to reshape my emotions to fit into a context that wasn’t me. I can now blabber on about dudes all I want. It feels great.”
Baths plays tonight at About Blank in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.